What is Heat Stroke and 8 Tips to Prevent It During Hot Weather
Currently, Malaysia is experiencing abnormally hot weather and if you are not careful, can cause heat stroke. It’s important to equip yourself with the knowledge of what is heat stroke, what causes it, the signs to look out for and how to prevent it. This post will explain a little bit about all of those with 8 tips on how to prevent heat stroke.
WHAT IS HEAT STROKE?
According to Wikipedia,
Heat stroke (also known as heatstroke, sun stroke or sunstroke) is a severe heat illness, defined as hyperthermia with a body temperature greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) due to environmental heat exposure with lack of thermoregulation. This is distinct from a fever, where there is a physiological increase in the temperature set point of the body. The term “stroke” in “heat stroke” is a misnomer in that it does not involve a blockage or hemorrhage of blood flow to the brain. Treatment requires rapid physical cooling of the body.
Our normal body temperature is 37 °C. Heat stroke occurs when your body temperature rises rapidly all of a sudden, but your sweating mechanism fails and if you can’t sweat, you’re unable to cool yourself down.
It’s important to know that if it’s not treated right away, it can cause organ failure causing permanent disability or worse, death. Children, the elderly and pets, especially cats and dogs, have higher risks than young adults in getting heat stroke.
WHAT CAUSES HEAT STROKE?
- Prolonged exposure to heat and sun
- Prolonged or excessive exercising
- Excessive clothing
HEAT STROKE SIGNS/SYMPTOMS
Signs that a person might be having a heat stroke include:
- No sweating
- High body temperature
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness/fainting
- Swollen tongue
- Low blood pressure
So if you’re having any of the signs above, it’s better to get checked immediately to make sure you’re not having heat stroke or to get immediate treatment.
If you are taking any medicines, check with your doctor or pharmacist whether your medicine can put you in danger of getting heat strokes. According to News Medical, the medications include:
- Allergy medicines
- Cough and cold medicines
- Some blood pressure and heart medicines
- Diet pills (amphetamines)
- Irritable bladder and irritable bowel medicines
- Some mental health medicines
- Seizure medicines
- Thyroid pills
- Water pills
WHAT TO DO WHEN A PERSON GETS HEAT STROKE
When you suspect yourself or a person you know is having a heat stroke, there are a few things you can do.
Things to do include:
- IMPORTANT: Get medical assistance immediately!
- Go to a shady area – It’s best to avoid direct sunlight/heat.
- Cool off – Cool your body by doing things like taking a ice-cold shower, spraying yourself with a garden hose, use an ice pack (if it’s sufficient enough to cool yourself or the person), wrap the body in a damp, wet towel, etc.
- Monitor body temperature – continue to cool the body down until the body temperature drops to at least 38 °C.
- Avoid drinking fluids – This is to avoid vomiting because it’s important to maintain an open airway.
8 TIPS TO PREVENT HEAT STROKE
Here are some tips for you to prevent heat stroke:.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing
So your body can breathe and cool down. Try wearing lighter, loose clothing with light in color and fabric. Try adding a hat and sunglasses too. Don’t forget sunblock.
Protect against sunburn
Don’t forget to wear sunblock with at least SPF 15 (the higher, the better) when you go out. Apply generously and reapply every 2 hours, or more often when you’re swimming or sweating too much. Remember, prolonged unprotected exposure to sun can cause major sunburn and risk yourself of getting skin cancer. It can also make your skin age faster.
Drink plenty of fluids
Recommended about a litre every hour to stay hydrated, maintain normal body temperature and helps you sweat. More if you’re exercising. I personally recommend adding some 100 plus to your daily life as well! And what’s better than to have some refreshing fruit juice as well? Especially watermelon. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can speed up the dehydration.
Stay indoor, stay cool
If possible, try to stay indoor and reduce your outdoor activity, especially in the afternoon. Stay cool in a room with fan or turn on air conditioning. If you don’t have air-cond, try going to a place with air-cond like the mall for example.
Take extra precautions with medications or if you’re at risk
As mentioned above, some medications can put you in danger of getting heat stroke. If you’re a person who can overheat easily, reduce physical or any activities that can put you at even greater risk. If you notice any signs of overheating, take a rest and cool your body down.
Limit exercising and working
Limit time spent working or exercising. Some people are not used to hot weather and are more susceptible to heat-related illness. Know your body and the signs and take precautions. If your work mostly involve outdoor, for example contractors, miners, farmers, fishermen, laborers etc., try not to expose yourself too much.
Note: I personally have had a roof repair guy who spent an entire day fixing my roof and got sick the next day. I suspect either heat stroke or at least heat exhaustion.
NEVER leave anyone in a parked car during hot day
I can’t stress this enough. Never leave your child or pets in a car under a hot sun. Not even for a minute. There’s been so many cases where the parents or pet owners leaving or forgetting their child or pets in the car, resulting in death. This is a common case of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise more than 6.7 °C (20 degrees °F) in 10 minutes so it’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are rolled down halfway or the car is in shade.
Extra Tips: If you are a pet owner, always provide fresh bowl of water and don’t let your pets be exposed too much to the sun. I have many cats. Some of them are already overheating and sick and I have to constantly monitor them to keep them cool.
Be a good person or a neighbor
If you know anyone, especially elderly who are living alone or someone critically ill, check on them to make sure nothing can pose as risk to them in getting heat stroke. Elderly people also are at in getting heat stroke and if they don’t take necessary precautions (plus with medications they’re taking), then the risk gets higher and can be dangerous and fatal to them.
I hope some this post have helped you gain a bit of understanding of heat stroke, the signs and also how to prevent it. If you find this post helpful, do help share it so others can learn about it too and be more aware.
Let’s hope for some rain…